June 19, 2018

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Inmate Headcounts: A Critical Responsibility

Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for corrections.

Are you conducting at least one formal count every day?

Today’s tip is directed to our good friends who work in corrections and it’s about the importance of conducting proper inmate headcounts. 

Inmate headcounts seem to be rather sacred in jails and prisons. When it’s time for a headcount, everything else stops. Visits, transfers, recreation, everything. Most inmates know when it’s “count time,” and most of them seem to respect the process. It seems like even inmates recognize the importance of the headcount. 

But how important is it to YOU that your facility has an accurate headcount? You should be doing informal counts of the inmates in your area throughout your shift, not just when it’s time for a formal count. 

Speaking of formal counts, do you start by looking at the expected number on the roster or computer log?  

When you start by looking at the number, there could be a subliminal tendency to match the numbers. My advice is to reverse this process. Physically count your inmates first. Write that total number down. Then look at the number on the roster or the computer.  

Are you conducting at least one formal count every day? I mean one where everyone is in their housing units, nobody is in court, in medical, or in the recreation yard. One where ALL inmates are required to be at their assigned bunk and every inmate is personally identified by a deputy. If you’re not doing this, you should be.  

Headcounts are a very important practice. Make sure that you’re doing yours properly and in full accordance with your policies. 

And that’s today’s tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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